June 13, 2011 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Toronto (June 10, 2011): On a call given by “Sikhs For Justice” a human rights advocacy group, during Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention (PBD Canada 2011), Several hundred Canadians including Sikhs, Muslims and Christians gathered in downtown Toronto to voice their support for Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who has been unjustly sentenced to death in India.
Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi, along with several other MP’s and high officials were supposed to attend the Indian-Canadian business leaders conference at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas but, all except Ms. Perneet Kaur backed out at the last minute and no reason was given for this abrupt change of plans by the office of the Indian High Commissioner in Canada. Earlier this year, the Indian government declared 2011 as the Year of India in Canada. The PBD Convention was supposed to be the largest meeting of the Indian diaspora in North America.
Professor Bhullar’s case has brought the international community’s attention to the plight of the Sikhs in India. Being convicted under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities act (TADA), an act which was criticized by the UN and later abolished due to its unconstitutional nature, Canadian Sikhs rallied and demanded that their elected officials and business community members raise Professor Bhullar’s issue with the Indian delegation present.
Professor Bhullar’s wife, Navneet Kaur, says he is sure to be executed unless Canada and other foreign governments pressure India to commute his death sentence. A Canadian citizen, Kaur came from her home in Surrey, B.C., to rally for justice outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre today where Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was meeting with business and political leaders from India.
“I am making a desperate appeal to any Canadian politician to step forward to help me save my husband, who is an innocent man,” said Kaur, choking back her tears. “I have sent a letter to Prime Minister Harper, the Governor General and the Premier of Ontario begging them for their help. My husband was falsely accused, forced to confess and has been imprisoned for 16 years for a crime he did not commit.”
“There is no justice Prof. Bhullar’s case,” said Gurpatwant S. Pannun, legal advisor to Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). “Professor Bhullar was tortured into giving a confession and there is no other evidence against him. “We urge the Governor General, the Premier and politicians of every stripe to raise this dire matter with the visiting Indian Ministers”. Attorney Pannun stated that “India is not a signatory to UN Convention Against Torture and it has been documented by a number of human rights organizations that the Indian police have tortured people under its custody to extract confessions. Bhullar’s case demonstrates that Sikhs are being subjected to ‘judicial murder’ in India.” “We need Canada and other foreign governments to intervene.”
“India often lays claim to being the world’s largest democracy, but the claim rings hollow,” said Jatinder Singh Grewal, Youth Coordinator for SFJ Canada. “I’m not sure who said it, but the true measure of a democracy is the way it treats its minorities – whether they be Sikhs, Muslims or Christians. “If Canada is going to do business with India, then our leaders must ask the tough questions on human rights. We know Sikhs who ask for equality or justice in India are routinely persecuted. We want justice for Professor Bhullar and the Sikhs of India.”
“Sikhs For Justice” the human rights advocacy group behind today’s massive “Justice Rally” is planning to file a petition that will be presented in the House of Commons demanding Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian Government to intercede.
The rally to save Prof. Bhullar was supported by the Ontario Gurudwaras Committee (OGC), Ontario Sikh and Gurudwara Council (OSGC), umbrella organizations of Ontario Gurudwaras, United Front of Sikhs, Shiromani Akali Dal Panch Pardhani, Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar, Gurudwara Jot Parkash Sahib, Gurudwara Mississauga Sahib and several other Sikh Gurudwaras from Montreal and Ottawa.
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Related Topics: Prof. Devender Pal Singh Bhullar